I'm not a great photographer, but one tip I've picked up that has been invaluable is that flashes should be used very sparingly, even in low light. I hate the way flash pictures look, and I wish people would just lay off the flashes and learn to take better pictures without them.
I recently spoke with the Scottish photojournalist Harry Benson, who is known for his images of world leaders, Hollywood icons, rock stars and everyday Glaswegians. (He is, as I found out, also an amiable character and a charming raconteur.) Mr. Benson’s photos, particularly his early black-and-white images, are masterly studies in the use of natural light, and I wanted to ask him for tips on shooting in low-light situations. Here’s what he had to say. ...
Any tips on using flash in low light?
I prefer not to use flash because it tends to control and take over the photo. I lose a lot of humanity with flash. I don’t want to use it in a position when I can use my brain instead. Without flash, pictures can take on a grainy feel. And if you take a photo of someone with a light in the background, the light gives a lovely warm tone to the photography. ...
If you had one tip for taking better night or low-light photos, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid. You’ll be surprised just how good your photos will be. Make sure there is some light on your subject’s face. But be brave about it. The thing about is that I’ve been awakened to see just what digital cameras can do in low-light situations. It digs right into spaces that I never thought a camera could penetrate.
Amen! Please turn your auto-flash off.